Last night we went to the DHS Senior Academic Awards Night to hand out the first annual Memorial Scholarships in Kevin’s name. These awards were funded from donations given by family, friends, co-workers and community organizations in Kevin’s memory. I can’t begin to thank all those who made donations to the fund.
I was prepared to have difficulty getting through my speech. I had to pause a couple of times while I was talking about Kev, but I made it through more or less. I also assumed that this would be the hardest year and it would get easier each year going forward. After last night I realize it’s not that simple.
Several people gave out memorial awards in memory of their children who died younger than anyone ever should. Each of us lost children at different ages and under different circumstances, but every person who presented, weather it was the first year (me) or the 20th year struggled to get through the emotions of the moment.
It hit me that this isn’t going to get any easier.
In the essay question for the scholarship we asked the students how they wanted to be remembered. The Girl’s winner wanted to be remembered for being true to herself. If you knew Kevin you pretty much know why we selected her. He was always himself.
The Boy’s side is a little more personal for me right now, and will remain so for the next two or three years. This year’s seniors were juniors when Kevin died. They were part of the program that honored Kevin while rallying around and supporting Drew. They were there on that awful day as word spread.
This year’s boy’s scholarship winner wrote about that day in his essay. It was hard to read, but heartfelt and honest. It was a pleasure to award the scholarship to a kid I watched play all year. He was truly a hard worker and an exceptionally nice kid and he’s left some very big shoes to fill. I hope next year’s keeper is up to the task.
The next two classes include lots of boys I either coached, or coached against during intramural soccer. Drew’s senior year will be particularly hard. Many of those players knew Kevin personally and I can’t think of any players from that graduating class who I haven’t coached at one time or another. Kev used to come along to our practices frequently; it’s just going to be really emotional for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is many of these players had a relationship with Kev through Drew.
I guess it won’t ever be easy, but I will be there every year until I’m too old and broken to go, and when that happens I expect the kids to keep up the tradition. We’ll be attacking the fundraising thing over the next couple of years so that we can perpetuate these awards. Let me know if you have any ideas.